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Contact Us

Dr. Johanna Nilsson, Ph.D.
Empowerment Program Director
nilssonj@umkc.edu
(816) 235-2484.

The Empowerment Program was established in 2001 with the mission to serve refugee and immigrant women and their families in the area of adjustment, mental health, and domestic violence via counseling, home visits, outreach, advocacy/case management, domestic violence shelter, interpretation, and transportation without charge.

The Empowerment Program’s main focus has been to eliminate barriers to traditional Western mental health and domestic violence services by working closely with refugee and immigrant communities via staff that are bilingual and bicultural and of refugee and immigrant background. We also work closely with domestic violence shelters and other social service organizations in the Kansas City area. We serve approximately 190 refugee or immigrant women and their families from a wide range of national backgrounds, including Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Jordan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Russia, India, Korea, Brazil, Peru, and Mexico.

Our Services

The Empowerment Program offers the following services to refugee and immigrant women and families:

  • Community Workshops: Covering topics such as mental health, acculturation/adjustment, physical health, family and gender roles, parenting, health, loss and grief, legal issues, unemployment and career barriers and stress/self care.
  • Counseling and Home Visits: Counseling services including individual and family therapy for adults and children provided by master and doctoral-level trainees under Counseling and Educational Psychology Division faculty or other licensed professional supervision at UMKC’s Community Counseling and Assessment Services.
  • Advocacy/Case Management: Bilingual and bicultural paraprofessional staff advocates work individually with clients, addressing a variety of needs including housing, translation, casework, community advocacy, issues and concerns regarding domestic violence, immigration services, employment pursuit services, and family transition support (example: divorce) as well as acting as a liaison and resource specialist in a variety of areas. Advocates are of refugee or immigrant background from countries such as Ecuador, Mexico, Somalia, Sudan, and Vietnam.
  • Interpretation Services: Interpretation services for several languages are available free of charge to clients.

Our Funders and Community Partners

The Empowerment Program is a joint effort among UMKC Department of Psychology, UMKC Community Counseling and Assessment Services, and Jewish Vocational Services, Kansas City. Since its inception, the program has been funded in part by the Jackson County Community Mental Health Fund.